Maine Pipes Go!

Posted: May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

May_2014_Portland_Maine_20140508-DSC_1441 By Corey Templeton Eastern Cemetery Springtime Fence small

Hello Folks!

The workshops are the weekend of May 21st-22nd.  That’s two weekends from now!

This will be your last chance to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and top-notch instruction on Pipes and Fiddle before MPF goes on Hiatus.  Last year everything fell into place easily and the event went off very very well. This year the event planning goblins found me.  Everything from insurance snafus to complete email failures plagued us.  I’ve got just enough time with two kids and a business to run to Make MPF happen every year, but when the goblins get me… well, I don’t have time for that.

But I’m very excited that Maine Pipes and Fiddle will be running this year  And there is still time to sign up!  

Two things for those of your thinking of signing up:

1 – There are Scholarships Available for Fiddle and Pipes.  Please get in touch if you or someone you know needs financial assistance to join us.  We’d hate for someone to stay home when they could benefit from some piping or fiddling classes.

2 – The class sizes are going to be tiny this year. So, if you have concerns about whether you’re “not good enough” for attending, don’t be.  We will be custom tailoring the entire class schedule to fit the needs of the students.  I’m actually quite excited about the chance to try this, as I think the extra small student body means we can try some special class structuring.

3 – There will be Piano and Guitar instruction available.  At this point, the amount of students we have for those instruments doesn’t warrant actual group classes as of yet.  So the instructors will be teaching short individual classes on those instruments.  But if we get more students we will switch to the usual group classes.

“Registration Forms”

For those of you who have signed up already, thank you!  And please ask friends and family if they would also like to attend.  There is also a “I just want to watch and hold my instrument” level of participation available if you know someone who wants to be a part of this event but isn’t ready to go all in.  Just ask.

Instead of the usual registration forms we usually send out, for those of you signed up, would you please just send me a short email at with the subject “registration” and tell me (1) your instrument and level of playing (I’ve been playing five years and I feel like I’m intermediate to advanced – or I’ve been dabbling in fiddle for 3 years and feel intermediate/beginner – or I’m a virtuoso Conch player just picking up the pipes for the first time…)  (2) If you’ll be joining us for supper on Saturday night and if you have any dietary restrictions, and (3) if you’re interested in volunteering to help with supper.

Schedule of Events

There is nothing official for Friday night, but please get in touch if you’ll be in town, as we’ll be having a get together here at my house that evening.  Most likely informal jamming.  The basic schedule will begin with classes on Saturday morning and afternoon, (with a break for lunch – there are numerous walkable lunch spots here in the neighborhood, or feel free to bring a lunch),  followed by a quick supper, and then the concert.  The Concert is just down the hill at the Portland New Church at 7:30pm.   We’ll walk back up the hill on Saturday night for music and drinks (BYO).  My kids will be having a sleepover elsewhere, so we can play until the wee hours.

Sunday morning will be classes again, and we’ll wrap up in the early afternoon.

Bring you Family!
We’re family friendly here at MPF and love to see kids getting exposed to our music.  Also, Portland is beautiful this time of year.  The trees are all starting to blossom right now, and the ocean air is delicious and warm.  We have beaches, we have hiking, we have ice cream!  There are a million and half things to do up here in Portland, including a really fun Children’s museum.

And do you like Food?  And do you like beer?  We are consistently voted one of the best places in the country for foodies and beer lovers.  I love both of them, but in particular, the breweries here are unbelievable!  Seriously though, we have one microbrewery per every 4,000 residents.  That’s pretty crazy.

Where do I stay?

I’ve had people ask about where to stay in Portland.  I’ve never used any of the hotels, but the city isn’t very large, you can stay at any of the local Hotels, B&Bs or AirB&B and get to our house easily.  There are none particularly close to us, but a group last year stayed at the nearish La Quinta and spoke well of it.   Check out for their excellent recommendations.

Flying in?

At this point, I don’t expect anyone that needs to fly in to sign up now… but if you are considering it, yes, the Jetport is quite close, and we can pick you up if need be.

To Conclude

I’m excited for the weekend.  It’s a super fun time for us here in Portland.  Please sign up if you haven’t already.  And I can’t wait to see you all!  


Hello world!

Posted: December 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Date of the weekend is March 10/11 2012

And we have a finalized list of the instructors:

Dr. Ellen MacPhee – Scottish Smallpipes, Border Pipes

Ellen MacPhee is a living proponent of a bagpiping tradition geared for dance halls and audiences that like to groove. Her repertoire draws on the dance rhythms of Prince Edward Island, Scottish, Irish, and Cape Breton traditions, and her arrangements combine Scottish smallpipes with fiddles, pianos, guitars, banjos and other unlikely characters.

Ellen began her studies in piping and dance at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in her hometown of Summerside, PEI. During those formative years, she also attended summer camps at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, Cape Breton. She found her musical calling at one of those summer sessions when she was introduced to the smallpipes by pipe maker Hamish Moore of Scotland.

In recent years, Ellen has delighted listeners around Eastern Canada and the United States including performance highlights at Celtic Colours International Festival and PEI’s Festival of Small Halls. She has also taught at PEI Fiddle Camp, the Gaelic College, Hamish Moore’s Piping School in Richmond, VT, and The Piper’s Gathering in Killington, VT.

At each stop, Dr. Ellen, who daylights as a chiropractor, encourages healthy playing habits through her seminar: The Prevention of Overuse Injuries in Musicians.

Ellen playing in Maine with Ward on piano

Dr. John MacPhee – Scottish Smallpipes, Border Pipes

We are very pleased to have Ellen MacPhee’s brother, John MacPhee as a new instructor for MPF. John also began his studies with the College of Piping in Summerside, PEI and was once part Cape Breton Island’s Gaelic College Pipe Band and was the piper for the now legendary “Celtic Fusion” band Slainte Mhath. While “Celtic Fusion” may not suggest it, Slainte Mhath’s music always stayed deep within it’s Cape Breton/Maritime roots, and students who want that “pure Cape Breton trad”, will find John’s piping very pleasing to their ears. You can here John playing pipes with the band here:

Slainte Mhath

Ward MacDonald – PEI Scottish Fiddle

Ward MacDonald grew up in the Scottish fiddling traditions of Prince Edward Island. His playing reflects four generations of family fiddling and is spiced with a unique blend of Cape Breton, Acadian, and Irish influences.

As an emerging composer, Ward is honoured to have had his tunes published by other artists including the late Jerry Holland, Timothy Cummings, and Alistair Gillies; and recorded by Andrea Beaton, Colin Grant, Chrissy Crowley, Vishten and others.

Ward has been featured at concerts, festivals, and square dances across Atlantic Canada and has traveled with his music as far as Cuba and the Bahamas. He has also taught and performed at fiddle camps in New Brunswick, Vermont, Maine, Colorado and the Yukon.

Over the last decade, Ward has worked to promote the traditional music scene on Prince Edward Island and develop new performing and learning opportunities. Along the way he created PEI’s Festival of Small Halls, initiated workshops at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, and founded the PEI Fiddle Camp.

As a teacher, Ward continuously grows his own understanding of the music while striving to expand his bag of tricks for explaining it in simple terms. His method includes guided ear training aided by singing tunes, dancing demonstrations, marching, and sheet music.

Watch a video of Ward performing at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival.

Tim Cummings – Scottish Whistle

Tim Cummings, a native of Tennessee, began his musical studies at the age of 6 as a student of the piano. He took up the pipes at age 8, and piping has been his primary musical focus ever since. Tim has studied piping with Al MacRae, Sandy Keith, Scott MacAulay, and briefly with the faculty at the RSAMD and National Piping Centre in Glasgow.

He earned his undergraduate degree in Music Education (The College of Wooster, Ohio); and both a B.A. Honours degree in Ethnomusicology and an M.A. in Musicology (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand). During the 2002-03 school year, he was the Artist in Residence at The College of Piping in Summerside, PEI. While living in New Zealand, Tim was a member of the highly competitive Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band, and he continues to arrange much of their repertoire. He has also published several pieces and collections of piping music via Beithe Publishing.

Currently based in Vermont, Tim works as a private teacher, performer, arranger/composer, and publisher of piping and Celtic-related music. In his spare time, he enjoys clawhammer banjo, shape-note singing, the great outdoors, and causing a little mischief here and there.

Ryan MacNeil – Piano

Ryan’s pedigree cannot be dismissed. Ryan was the piano player for Slainte Mhath and since 2005 has been playing with his family in the world famous Barra MacNeil’s. We’re very excited to have a dedicated piano player for the weekend, especially Ryan who is one of the best.

Piano Solo

Nate Banton –

I’ll be doing a bit of maintenance and reedmaking demos during the weekend. I’ll also have at least one set for loan if someone wants to give bellows piping a whirl.

If you have thought about attending PEI Fiddle camp, but you weren’t sure whether to make the big jump, this event is a much closer and shorter event to get your feet wet with. Don’t miss it!

Here is a video of John and Tim on smallpipes (among others), with Ryan on piano. Please excuse the tuning as the video progresses (into the wee hours! Plus, outside of the frame was a very talented GHB piper trying his hand at smallpipes with bellows for the first time).

PEI Fiddle Camp Session

I have no doubt that the tunes in Maine in March will be very similar. We once had people playing tunes almost continuously for six hours!

It’s a very fun time with the instructors being extremely approachable and catering to beginners and the advanced. If you play pipes, fiddle, piano, whistle, please come on up to Maine. It’s not as far as you might think and so very well worth it.

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

I love that someone actually made such a video.  Youtube is such a great tool for us all.  Anyone can share anything.  Fantastic.  But we all have to remember that bad speakers and compression rates and all that distort reality.

Here’s what the author says:

“a experiment with three different NSP chanter

chanter 1 :
African black wood with a very good reed (one of the best reeds I ever made)
the black wood chanter have a lot of overtones and makes great harmonics with the drones

chanter 2 :
plum wood with a good (average) reed
this chanter sounds a little bit dull, but with more sweetness than the black wood chanter

chanter 3 :
hard maple with a not so good reed
the maple chanter sounds dull with no sweetness.
Playing this chanter I miss something in the sound, the chanter sounds ‘like a old man without teeth and a mouth full of potatoes who is talking to me’. This chanter is for me more or less unacceptable to play.

When I play the three chanter I hear great differences in the sound .

But bad recording, video edit, compression to a MPEG layer, YouTube compression, bad sounding loudspeakers and that all, it cuts off all the important overtones/harmonics of the natural sound.

The three chanters sounds equal (for me on my PC) when I hear them on YouTube…

Is this a new or important thing? No, but I was astonished that a chanter I will never play (the third chanter) because his natural sound is so bad, sounds ‘so good’ on YouTube.”

This video is about how all chanters sounding “equal” on youtube, but it inevitably brings up the question of what makes different chanters sound different from one another.  The author addresses this in the comments:

“I would say that 70% depends on the reed, 20% how the chanter is made and not more than 10% on the kind of wood.

The third chanter, made from maple, sounds really good with a better reed.

But a black wood chanter will always sounds different than a maple or plum chanter in my experience.

Not better or bad, simply different and it is up to you what sound you like.”


I completely agree.  Choose your reedmaker first,  your pipe maker on the reedmaker’s recommendation (preferably the same fella), and then choose your wood.  Sure, wood choice does matter, but it’s far down on the list.  Most pipers can hear the difference between an ABW chanter and an apple chanter using the same reed (these two woods being two extremes), but even that difference is somewhat small.  Honestly, most comparisons between woods are difficult to make.  The difference between Sonokeling and Osage, or Palisander and Plum is so small.  Yes, it’s there, but you’ll hear much more of a difference with the same chanter and reed combo between a humid day and a dry day.

Adjusting Videos

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Video projects

I know I haven’t been much of a Blogger for the past year.  When I moved my shop to New Haven, CT, I didn’t have internet there so not much time was spent on the computer that year!  Now we’re living in Brooklyn and I’ll be moving my shop in two days to it’s new Brooklyn location.  I don’t know if I’ll have internet there, but my schedule should, hopefully, allow for some Blogging no matter.

Maine Pipes and Fiddle Videos

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ll post videos of MPF here as they become available:

Maine Pipes and Fiddle Fall 2010

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

The first question you should ask yourself if you weren’t at MPF Fall 2010 is, “What was I thinking?!?”  You missed a good one!  Just don’t miss the next MPF which will be MPF number 10.   As always, I thoroughly enjoyed myself up in Maine.   A big thanks to Keith and Kelly for their amazing hosting and patience.  We had people from all over sleeping in every corner of their lovely home (I think 14 people!)  And a huge thanks to the instructors Tim, Koady, Ellen and Clamato.  Great tunes taught; amazing tunes played.

The concert was incredible.  We are so blessed to have such fantastic musicians willing to drive from so far to play us great music.

I’d like to let the photos and videos do the talking, but I want to mention one thing:  We always try to have a get together of one kind or another  Saturday evening.  I think we really hit on the right combination this time.  Most of the attendees of the workshop came to Keith and Kelly’s house and Kelly made a super supper for everyone.    While waiting for dinner, I gave a somewhat impromptu reedmaking workshop.  We plan to make this a more formal part of the weekend next year.  What was most amazing about Saturday night was the sheer amount of music played.  Talking about it afterwards, Clamato and I guessed that with only a few short breaks, music was played for about 7 hours!  Considering the first MPF when we knew only a few tunes all together, this is just unbelievable.  We’ve grown so much and learned so many tunes!




And MPF Spring 2011 will be  number 10!  So, while still keeping MPF it’s usual laid-back self, we’re planning some extra fun stuff for the tenth MPF.  Come join us for #10 and stay ’till #50!